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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

PPM #3: Kakurenbo Top

If I were to stick to patterns that are wearable, I'd have to stay away from the most interesting patterns in this book. So this time I chose to focus on design rather than wearability. The pinafore with kakurenbo is a fun pattern to draw, and a great pattern for some curve-sewing practice. I made it in unbleached cotton so it would resemble the fabric used in the book, but as you'll see, a stretch fabric would have been a better choice.

Drafting and cutting
This is going to be a picture heavy post, but I want to explain how to best draft this pattern as the instructions in the book are minimal as usual.

If you look at the pic above, you can see that you start with drafting a curve, adding lines, and then separating it into pieces. If you look at the match points, you can see that you're supposed to flip part B over. The book doesn't say how you're supposed to do this. You could separately trace B, cut, flip and then tape, but there's a much easier way which I'll explain below.

First start with drafting the curves onto your bodice front. I did not draft it according to the measurements in the book, just mimicked it. Mark matchpoints at the points where the line changes direction on the vertical scale, i.e. goes from right to left or vice versa.

Put a bigger piece of pattern paper on top of your design, and trace the line until your first matchpoint.

Now, flip your paper over from right to left (not top-bottom), and match your points. Just the points, not the line. Above I'm matching my points A. You see the mirrored image of the bodice below it. Now trace the next part of the line until your next matchpoint, in this case B.

Flip it over again and match your points B. Then trace the next part of the line. Keep doing this until you come to the end. You'll have half of the line on the other side of your paper, but it is mirrored and you can trace the line back onto the right side. You can clearly see it through the paper.

When you're done you'll have the complete line, but spread out. So the part from A to B, from C to D and from E to F is now mirrored and inserted between the other pieces without any extra tracing and cutting. Easy, right? You can also see the extra matchpoints (I-IV) and the cutting lines where it'll be spread out.

The next step is to cut along the lines and spread out. I spread them out by half of the measurements in the book because I wasn't going to make a pinafore. If you're not going to wear it, better not waste too much fabric on it. It works best to tape immediately after cutting a line, so it won't shift anymore.

This is what you'll end up with. Tape the spread out pattern onto a new piece of paper and trace the outlines. Don't forget to transfer the matchpoints. The new piece will be your final pattern piece.

As mentioned above, I used unbleached cotton. The author has used a woollen georgette, so I wanted to use a non stretch fabric, too. However, this makes the curves very difficult to sew. I have to admit I did not try my very best because I wasn't going to wear it, but I did correct the worst parts. It can be done as is demonstrated by this awesome version. However, it is probably easier to sew and equally pretty when you use a stretch fabric, shown here. A stretch version with a little less flare can be seen here, although I don't think Megan would have called this easy...

Sewing these curves by machine is no walk in the park, let me tell you this. Even though I hand basted before I sewed, it still did not get any smooth seams on the curves. I've ripped and resewn about five places where it was really bad, but didn't bother to make it perfect. So if you want to see what this pattern could actually be like, check the links above :). Megan's struggle with the curves is completely understandable, if I were to do it again I might sew it completely by hand to get more grip on them. If I understand correctly that's what Marion did and her curves look great! OK so now that I've warned you, here's the endresult.

So the good thing is: it worked out. There's concealed curves under the flares. You know what, I'm not even going to talk about gaping necklines and armholes and rippled seams. Let's just focus on the fact that this was a lot of fun to draft, horrible less fun but interesting to sew and that I gained more experience in drafting and sewing. Not wearable at all as I expected, it's not even my style when done well. But I could see this working on a skirt maybe. What do you think? Would you try it? Have you attempted some magic this month?

The date for next month is april 24th! This time you'll get to choose what I take on, so stay tuned :) As always, if you have projects to share, with or without blog, just email Marianna or me.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Ode to Grace and the 90's

The '90s and '80s seem to be the most hated decades in fashion (and maybe in music, too). But I must say, maybe it's because I grew up in them, but I do have a weak spot for those styles. What I wanted with this sweater is to make it look like it came right out of that time. A weird fabric, shapeless sweater, with a high neckline and cuff and hem bands. When I showed the result to Stef, he said it looked like I got it in a thrift store. That's a bingo!

My inspiration came from a girl that was in my class last year in Norway, Grace. She always wore the most quirky sweaters, those big knitted ones, with big acorn appliquees or just weird colours. Google 90's sweaters and that's what they looked like. The most wonderful thing was that she wore them because she liked them, not to make a statement or because she had no idea what she was wearing. She wore them in the most natural way and I loved it. So this sweater is also an ode to her, because when I saw this fabric I immediately thought of her.

I drafted the pattern myself. Man, those raglan sleeves cost me a good 4 hours to draft. I've seen much easier methods online but I have to follow my teachers instructions, right? I can't judge (yet) which method is the best. The sleeves have a shoulder dart, which makes them follow the curve of your shoulder and it makes the sweater a bit more fitted around that area. I also drafted the peter pan collar using Gertie's tutorial. I had to draft it twice, the first one was way too small. It's the difference between woven and stretch fabrics I guess, so keep that in mind when you use this tutorial on stretch. I wanted a peter pan because they are so cutesy (i.e. not my style) but combined with this style and fabric it just adds to the weirdness. So, quirky or just plain hideous, whatever you might call this sweater, I love wearing it :). I'm curious what you think of it (not you Daphne, I know what you're thinking ;)), is it weird in a good or bad way?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Stretch Stitches

Today I'd like to ask you a really short question:

Does your machine have stretch stitches?

Some machines have multiple stretch stitches, others have just one. With stretch stitches I don't mean stitches that can be used a stretch stitches, such as the zig zag. I mean the ones that are designed specifically for stretch fabrics. Below you can find a few symbols that are used on your machine to depict these.

I am asking because I am finalizing my instructions for the folded skirt, and I want to know how common these stitches are before I talk about them. Doesn't make sense to recommend stitches that not many people have, right? Can you please let me know in the poll below? Thanks!

On another note: next wednesday is Pattern Magic day! If you have a project to share, with or without blog, let me (or Marianna) know and we'll include you in a post.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Design Review: Recap

First things first: we have two giveaway winners!

The pattern : Camie! Contact me girl, you didn't leave your email :)

The fabric: Elizabeth!

Congrats! Expect an email from me asking for address details soon.

This is the last post in these series! I've really enjoyed reading your elaborate and honest answers to my questions. I know it's been said a lot, but the joy of knowing that there are all these super nice people out there reading my words, is just so so great. To be honest, I'm not much of a commenter myself, and I'm also not the kind of person who shouts out every three lines how much I love you. Just know that I do really appreciate you being here. Reading your answers, even though they were anonymous, made me feel like I got to know you a little bit better.

Now get ready for some piecharts!

Paper Goods

Most of you like to get your pattern by mail, or have the option to choose. This outcome gives me the final push to go for physical patterns. When it comes to pattern paper, I guess I'll have to do my best to find something that is not tissue but still see through! I love working with this in between paper I'm using, we'll just have to find out if there's a printer who can handle it.

When it comes to your favourite package, Papercut was a winner because of it's size, but Deer & Doe is a close second. One thing that was mentioned a lot was that the package should be big enough to store the pattern after use. Sturdyness and thus durability is also very important. There is a limit to the size, because a lot of you have a box to store patterns in, and the package should also fit in there. That's why some of you did not choose Papercut even though it's perfect for storing your used pattern afterwards.

Style & Size

I was happy to read that most of you liked my idea of modern, clean and edgy patterns. A bit of statistical bias though, the fact that you read my blog already indicates that you like what I do. The word 'practical' also came up a lot. Seeing that I'll be living in a firetruck for a year, I'm guessing this will definitely be a theme :). Pants were mentioned too. I also liked the contradiction in your answers: some were looking for something more 'original', while others said 'nothing is ever new'. I do think that the world does not need another Darling Ranges/Sureau/Clara though. I'll be looking to complement or add to what is already there, not make my own version of the same.

You were almost all on the same line when it comes to variations though: for 90% of you variations make it more likely for you to buy a pattern. And I agree: Indie patterns are not cheap, so you'll want to be able to use it more than once. It was also mentioned a couple of times that you don't consider sleeve lengths to be true variations, which I also agree with.

Then something about size... 78% of you do not usually fall within one size column. That's a lot! I myself usually span 4 size columns, so I know what it's like. I've just finalized my size chart, and I did a lot of research on them. I hope I've come close to the most common measurements, but this outcome just shows that it doesn't matter that much. I think it means I chould focus on explaining how to cut the pattern when you don't fall into one size column. Your comments on finished garment measurements are noted, too!


I have to say that these answers are less easy to capture into piecharts. Which is entirely due to the fact that I should have asked better questions, ofcourse. Making good surveys is not easy!

As you can see the booklet is the most preferred shape of instructions. I can't make final decisions on these yet, but it's good to know we're mostly on the same page. The same goes for the type of diagrams. I suspect it'll be easier for me to make clear illustrations than good photographs anyway.

The overall impression that I got about the amount of information is that more is more. If I combine your answers, instructions should be elaborate and precise but written in simple English, and there should be enough illustrations for those who don't read instructions and/or are more experienced. Recommended fabric and seam finishes are also appreciated. I like what Tilly did, providing a simple checklist with the pattern and providing a step-by-step sewalong with photo's. There's room for innovation here and I'll have to think on that some more. I think that not only the content but also the design and layout of the information will play a big role in making everything understandable.

That's it folks! Thanks again so much for your feedback, you've helped me making decisions and also you've helped yourself by participating in my design process. I'll never be able to please everyone, but I hope this way I'll create stuff that's mostly in line with your needs and wishes. Cheers!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Reminder: Pattern & Fabric Giveaway

I just wanted to remind you of the giveaway that ends tonight. I found out that people who read my blog in Google Reader might have missed it the first time because I accidently published it a week early, and then deleted it again. When I published again, Reader just updated the old post, so it has not appeared at the top of your feed. Thanks to Megan for pointing this out! And all this time I was thinking you didn't like the giveaway :). Anyway, last chance to enter!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Föhr Him

Ugh what a bad title :) I couldn't think of anything else. For some reason I felt in the mood to make something for Stef again. I didn't ask him for his opinion, I just found a nice fabric which would make a good combo with his new (2nd hand) corduroy blazer. He's been watching Put This On and felt that maybe he should move on from hoodies to something more grownup.

Hehe, silly face. The pattern is Föhr. I used the same size as last time, but it's more snug this time. Could be because I actually sewed on the 1.5 cm seam allowance. Usually I cut out 1.5 cm, but then sew about 1 cm from the edge. That's not a method, just the inability to estimate the correct distance :) But you keep on learning, and it fits him better this time. I corrected the shoulder adjustment I did last time, but kept the lower armscye. This post by Lauriana was very helpful. On the first fitting I clearly had the problem where due to the lowering of the armscye, it was pulling around his upper arm. There was just enough room in the seam allowance to correct this a bit.

That V-neck could have been done better. I tried twice, and then there was not enough fabric left to fix it. This time I did topstitch the neckline with the triple stretch stitch. I feel more confident now, knowing that it will actually stretch and no threads will break. And there's no stretching while sewing because I decrease the pressure on the foot. Every other seam is serged. I'm very happy with the fit and so is Stef. The fabric has a better drape and a better recovery than the first one. The only problem was that even though there's no wool in it, it was terribly itchy. I put it in the freezer to reduce some itch which worked. It's still a bit itchy, but Stef is wearing it all the time so apparently it's not too bad. Phew! Next time I'll drag him with me to the fabric store, so I can do an itch test before I buy.

P.S. Don't forget to enter the giveaway! Not many people have entered, so your chances are good. And note that I am not giving away the patterns in my stash! You can pick out any pattern by any Indie designer. Just have a look at their websites and tell me which one you'd fancy. Filling out a survey is not obligatory.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Design Review: Giveaway!

NOTE: This giveaway is now closed!

Before I do a recap of your answers, I wanted to give huge thanks for your input on the Design Review surveys! To express my gratitude I've set up a little giveaway. I want to encourage you all to try an Indie pattern in case you haven't yet, so I'm giving away...

One Indie pattern of your choice!

Maybe one of these? Negroni shirt, Josephine tee, Thurlow Trousers, Briar Sweater, Robe Bleuet

And a bonus birthday prize: This lovely cat jersey!

You can choose any indie pattern company, any pattern, it's not limited to the ones I've mentioned here. So if you'd like Tilly's Mathilde blouse, or the Elisalex Dress of By Hand London, it's all good. My birthday was Feb 18th, hence the bonus prize :). The fabric is a medium weight jersey of good quality, 1.5 by 1.5 meters (1.5 yards, 60" wide). Also seen here and here. I got it a few months ago but it's too patterny for me.

All I ask of you in return is to fill out one of the surveys. They're anonymous so I won't be able to check, but it would be nice if you'd do it anyway :) You can choose from these three:

Paper Goods
Style & Size

And then let me know in your comment:
  • which pattern you'd pick
  • how to contact you
You're automatically in for both prizes, if you don't like the fabric let me know, then I'll exclude you in the bonus draw. Extra entries:

  • Tweet about it 
  • Blog about it

Leave a separate comment for each entry. Entries are accepted until March 12th. This giveaway is open internationally. You can only win either one of the prizes, I'll draw first prize winner first. I am not sponsored by any indie pattern designer, this truly is a gift from me to you!

Good luck!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Coat Details

Today I'll tell you a bit more about my coat! The pattern is Burda 10/2012 #126, Military Jacket.

I traced the pattern from the actual magazine, but downloaded the instructions. The magazine was my teachers' and the instructions in German, and Burda lets you download instructions for free. As you can see I didn't add the fringe felted wool strips that should go around the sleeves and over the princess seams.

I'm a big fan of epaulettes. It wasn't easy to set them in neatly with the sleeve cap. I also don't get how they have set them in in the example. If you have to iron the seam towards the sleeve, how can you have them standing out like that? And you have to iron the seam towards the sleeve, because you have to set in shoulder pads, too. Of which there was no mention in the instructions btw. I'm happy with how they turned out anyway.

Ah, the lining! I found the lining at the same market stall as the wool. I had different plans initially for the fabric, but then I saw this forest green wool and I just had to have it. It is most accurately pictured in the last photo below. The colors in the cotton lining go perfectly together with the wool. I used the yellow acetate from my stash on the sleeves so it would be easier to put it on. My teacher suggested I also do the upper back, but I thought that would be too much fuss. It would have given nice lines on the inside though. The instructions say to add the facings to the outer shell first, and then sew the lining in. My teacher said it would be easier to put the entire lining plus facings together first and then sew it to the outer shell, so that's what I did. I also added a thin poly batting to the lining, and sewed these layers together as one. I'm glad I did, the coat is a bit stiffer but it's really warm. And I was so tired of being cold!

This is a little detail I added. Very simple but pretty! I only use this loop when I have to though, at home I hang my coat on a hanger because I'm scared it'll get pulled out of shape by it's own weight.

The zipper was also not in the instructions. I wanted to be sure the wind couldn't get through, and I discovered that the button flap was the same width as the facing. The perfect place to insert a zipper! The only thing is that I should have made it two inches shorter at the bottom. When I sit down it wrinkles upward. It puts more strain on that area and although it will probably hold, I couls have prevented that. So my advice: when fitting your coat, sit down in it was well :)

And last but not least: my first welt pockets ever! The instructions were indecipherable, so my teacher helped me. She had me cut the lining of the pocket flap on the bias. This prevents the corners to turn upwards. After that you iron the lining towards the inside along the edges so it doesn't show when turned down. They still show a bit though, bt I like the effect of the lining on the inside. There's a couple of other tricks she taught me, like shortening your stitches at the end of a seam when there's going to be tension, like the corners of the pocket openings. And she told me not to clip my corners all the time. Sometimes it's better to just trim the allowances really close to the seam. You'll get a much nicer corners that way, like on my pocket flaps. So, lots and lots stuff learned on this coat! I'm already thinking of making a summer coat. I've still got the Minoru waiting for me...